The Big List of Camping Tips: What Every Beginner Camper Needs to Know

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Camping tent at stream

Camping can be super fun, and it can be alot of work!  A little knowledge can go a long way in making your camping trips easier. Proper planning and some camping hacks can lessen the work and help create a fun camping adventure. Beginner campers, this big list of camping tips is loaded with camping ideas and before you know it, you’ll be camping like a pro.

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1. Make reservations. Many campgrounds fill quickly, so make reservations if you can. Some campsites have to be reserved weeks or months in advance.

2. Stay for more than one night. It is a lot of prep and packing for only one night. (Or see tip # 45 to make it easier)

3. Go camping even if you can only stay one night.  I know sometimes one night is all that you have, so pick somewhere close to home and go!

4. Don’t forget the less popular campgrounds.  Skip the famous parks and campgrounds for a quieter camping trip. There are tons of hidden gems in every state. We love camping in national forests.

5. Do your best to not arrive at the campground after dark. It will be harder to find your campsite and set up your tent in the dark. And some campgrounds close a gate at certain times.

6. Bring a tarp. They make a good ground cloth under your tent or can be used to cover your tent if you discover a leak when it rains.

7. Bring rope or paracord. To hang the tarp or make a line for wet clothes.

tent campsite with clothesline

8. Pitch your tent at home  Practice setting it up and check for any damage before you get to the campground.

Related Post: The Best Tent Buying Guide

9. Bring extra tent stakes. Stakes can bend beyond repair. We replaced ours with heavy duty stakes.

10. Stake your tent. Even if it is free standing and technically doesn’t have to be.  It will be more stable, and you won’t have to worry about it blowing away.

11. Don’t forget the rainfly. If you packed your tent properly, your rainfly should be with your tent. If not, pray it doesn’t rain and enjoy the view of the stars.

12. Bring a door mat. It will help keep dirt and mud out of your tent.

13. Clear your tent site of rocks and sticks. It will protect your tent and make it more comfortable for you.

14. Look for dead trees at the campsite. Don’t pitch your tent under a dead tree.

15. Bring firewood. Some campgrounds will not let you bring your own firewood. Not because they just want to make money selling firewood, but it is to prevent the spread of invasive pests and diseases. Check before you go. you can find out more about this at Don’ t Move Firewood.

16. Don’t forget your matches and/or lighter. You can also use a firesteel like this.

17. Cotton balls covered in Vaseline make neat fire starters. Get any brand of 100% pure petroleum jelly, cotton balls that are 100% cotton, (these jumbo ones are great), and ziploc bags. Put a spoon of the petroleum jelly and several cotton balls in a ziploc bag, zip it shut, and squish it together to get the jelly on the balls. They work best if some of the cotton ball isn’t covered – these dry fibers will ignite.

18. Empty toilet paper tubes stuffed with dryer lint are good fire starters too.

19. Don’t forget toilet paper. Some primitive campgrounds may run out or the vault toilets may not be stocked at all.

Campground bathroom

20. Consider making your own portable camping toilet if you plan on primitive camping. We have used a toilet like this for years – tent camping, pop-up camper camping, and even during a weekend bathroom remodel at home. A cheaper alternative is a bucket toilet – check this out!

21. Pack it in, pack it out. Practice Leave No Trace principles. Leave your campsite cleaner than when you arrived.

22. Bring garbage bags. 

23. Baby Wipes. Yes, even if you don’t have a baby. They come in handy for messy hands or wiping off if showers aren’t available. I get the unscented, natural ones.

24. Bring a first aid kit. Have some basic first aid supplies to take care of an injury or illness. Don’t let a scraped knee or headache spoil the day. We assemble our own, or you can buy a kit.

25. Pillow. I can sleep on the ground, but love having a pillow. My family says I sleep so sound that they can hear me snoring outside the tent! You can stuff some clothes in a bag, use your backpack, or even buy a camping pillow. These camping pillows are great, and we love this one for backpacking.

26. Check your sleeping bag before crawling in it at night. You don’t want to share it with a snake or any other creature. Keeping your tent zipped closed.

27. Ditto for your shoes in the morning, especially if you have them outside your tent or beside your hammock. Check them before slipping them on.

28. I always bring flip flops for the shower. I have been in some really clean bath houses, but I still don’t want any fungus among us on my feet. I worry more about the showers than I do walking barefoot on the ground or getting in the lake, river, or creek.

29. Try cooking over the campfire.  Skip the camping stove or grill. Try pie irons for easy over the fire cooking.

30. Use a cast iron skillet. They are great for cooking over the fire. You can set it on a grate or on the hot coals. I can smell the bacon!

Related Camping Posts: The Best Dutch Ovens for Camping  and 10 Delicious Dutch Oven Dinner Recipes for Camping

31. Aluminum foil comes in handy. You can cook in it or use it to cover the yucky campground grill.

32. Pack extra food. It seems like everyone is really hungry when camping. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt most people (including me) to eat less!

33. Take eggs in bottle. Planning on scrambled eggs one morning? Crack them at home, put them in a wide mouth bottle, and tuck that in the cooler. No more worries about protecting fragile eggs and it won’t take up as much room.

34. Freeze liter bottles of water for the cooler. It last longer than loose ice and isn’t as messy. Plus you can drink it as it thaws.

35. Never leave a fire unattended. It drives me crazy to see an unattended fire at a campsite. As Smoky the Bear says, “YOU can prevent forest fires.”

Smokey the Bear

36. Always put out your campfire.  Put it out cold. Don’t assume it will burn out on its own.

37. Never store food in your tent. Put it in the car, a bear canister, or hang it in a bear bag, depending on where you are camping and if you are car camping or backpacking. Some campgrounds provide food lockers. Your food can attract all kinds of critters.

38. Enjoy wildlife from a distance.. Never approach wildlife in the campgrounds, on the trails, or even if you spot a “cute” bear from your car.

39. A knife comes in handy. You can use it for cutting rope, gear repairs, fishing, cutting food and kindling.

40. Don’t forget the flashlight. You’ll need a flashlight, and may even want a lantern. Many campers prefer a LED lantern over a traditional propane lantern. Check out this hanging fan/lantern combination!

41. Unplug. Connect with nature not your electronic device. I know there are some cool outdoorsy apps, but try to keep their use to a minimum.

42. Store your camping supplies in totes and keep them stocked. Then just grab your totes, tent/hammock, some food and drinks, and you are ready to go. Oh yeah, some clothes too!

43. Consider a rooftop cargo carrier if all your gear won’t fit in your car. This best-selling rooftop cargo bag is actually affordable and folds up for easy storage. Small car, family/friends, camping gear, cooler equals not enough room. Or see the next tip.

44. Don’t over pack. I know a lot of this list of camping tips has been things to bring camping, but not everything is a necessity. Sure, some of it makes camping easier, but all you need are the basics.

Related Camping Post: Flying with Camping Gear

45. Use a camping checklist. Many people have found that a camping checklist ensures they have everything they need and makes preparing for their camping trip easier.


46. Consider backpacking. A walk in or backcountry campsite offers a more primitive experience and the opportunity to see scenery you would otherwise miss. It will also teach you how to pack efficiently as everything you need will be in your pack.

47. Watch your kids. I love kids and am thrilled to see them having fun outdoors, but nobody wants kids terrorizing the campground. And everybody has a different idea of what makes a kid a nuisance, so watch yours and teach them to respect other campers.

48. Invite friends and family to share the adventure. Sometimes this backfires, and they drive you crazy! 😃

Friends camping

49. Don’t be afraid to camp alone.  You may find out that you love it.

50. Take pictures!  It is great to capture your camping memories. Just don’t approach the wildlife for that close up photo!

51. Start a camping journal. It is a fun way to record info on your favorite campgrounds, activities, and adventures. You can create your own with a notebook or buy a journal specifically for camping.

52.  Don’t sweat the small stuff. Pack your sense of humor. Trust me, things are gonna go wrong sometimes. Be a happy camper anyway!

Please share this list of camping tips on Pinterest for me!!

Big list of camping tips with picture of family camping

 

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